Get Weird, U.K. girl group Little Mix’s third studio set, was released on Friday (Nov. 6), nearly two years after the quartet issued its sophomore album, Salute, overseas in November 2013. In a phone interview with Fuse, members Leigh-Anne Pinnock and Perrie Edwards say that the longer-than-expected drought between new projects was nerve-racking, but ultimately produced a better full-length.
“It was pretty scary for us to have such a big break,” says Edwards, who toured with the rest of the group in 2014 as headliners and as support for Demi Lovato. “It’s as if we expected to come back and not have the fan base anymore. Fortunately, we have the most dedicated, loyal, amazing fans in the world … We had a bit of time to write the album, find out what we wanted to do, what direction we wanted to go in. It’s been nice to have that and come back stronger than ever.”
“We didn’t want to rush anything,” adds Pinnock. “We felt like, if it wasn’t perfect, we weren’t going to release it. We missed a lot of deadlines, but I think it was worth it.”
A cursory listen to Get Weird shows how much Little Mix has expanded its repertoire in the two years since Salute: While the 2013 LP was a decisively rhythmic pop project, Get Weird is a collection of different styles, from doo-wop to bubblegum to springy synth-pop. Still, a deeper dive into the album reveals that all of the moving parts fit snugly together.
“When we went in, we wanted to change it up a bit,” notes Edwards. “We made a conscious decision to make it different from our previous albums. It’s more interesting and fun that way.”
“The main point was to produce a hit, obviously,” says Pinnock, “but we didn’t want the album to be too mixed-up.”
“Black Magic,” the lead single to Get Weird, has become the group’s highest-charting hit to date, peaking at No. 67 on the Hot 100 chart. Like Little Mix’s two previous albums, Get Weird promotes female empowerment, but is more pointed with its focus on surviving hardship and coming out stronger on the other side. Take “I Won’t,” the bonus track that Pinnock describes as the most personal song on the album, and which includes lyrics like “And I won't let anybody tell me no/I won't take anything for granted/‘Cause I know that nothing good comes easy/If it did, I wouldn't be me,” over inspiring handclaps.
“We wrote that with Jess Glynne,” Pinnock says of “I Won’t.” “That was at a time when we were in the studio, and literally, we couldn’t write a single and couldn’t produce anything that we thought was good enough. It was really annoying. But that happens, you get writer’s block, and it was a bit of a low moment for us. Jess Glynne was like, ‘Come on girls, let’s just write something.’ And then we wrote 'I Won’t.' It definitely uplifted us.”
“"We’re literally the best of friends. And that’s the most amazing feeling—to know that I’ve got three girls that I generally love to be with.””
Four years after forming as a quartet on the U.K. version of The X Factor, Little Mix feels as if it just hitting its stride, and breaking away from the shortened life expectancy for girl groups. “We’re definitely closer than ever as a group,” says Pinnock. “If we didn’t have the friendship that we have, it just wouldn’t work, and we wouldn’t have lasted as long as we have, or have many more years to come. We’re literally the best of friends. And that’s the most amazing feeling—to know that I’ve got three girls that I generally love to be with.”
So are they already thinking about songs for the follow-up to Get Weird? “Always,” Edwards answers. “We’re constantly thinking about different concepts and different lyrics and different melodies. I think that just comes naturally. Somebody might be telling a story one day, and one of us thinks, ‘Shit, that would be such a good song!’ So we write the concept in the song book.”
For now, Little Mix is happy to be completing its latest promotional run, prepping its next tour and insisting that their fans listen to their latest album title—or, in other words, let their freak flags fly proudly. “We are weird, and we based the album on that,” says Edwards. “This [album] is all about embracing your personality and not being afraid to hide who you really are. Why hold back for everybody else? We say ‘weird’ as ‘wonderful,’ as that’s what we did [with the title]. We know that everybody has a bit of weirdness in them. Let it out.”